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East Lothian schools’ success in Viridor eco challenge

L-R: (Dunbar Grammar School Pupils) Izzie Love / Milla Berggren / Tess Brennan / Rachael Dickson / Kitty Bird (Judging Panel) Cllr Shamin Akhtar / Tom Reid - Waste Service Manager ELC / Provost/Cllr John McMillan / Katie Colquhuon - Viridor (Knox Academy Pupils) Sammy Hall / Rachel Smith / James Dobrescu-Parr

Pupils from two East Lothian schools have won recognition for projects that have been hailed as “excellent” in a prestigious competition sponsored by Scotland’s leading recycling and renewable energy company, Viridor.

The teams from Dunbar Grammar School and Knox Academy in Haddington so impressed judges with their projects to improve the county’s sustainability and recycling rates that both groups have been declared winners in the East Lothian Schools Eco Challenge competition.

Viridor sponsored the competition to celebrate more than one million accident-free hours at the company’s Dunbar Energy Recovery Facility. The test challenged East Lothian secondary schools to design a project specifically related to sustainability and environmental improvement within East Lothian, and which aims to improve on any or all of the three Rs:  Reducing, Reusing, or Recycling waste.

The final presentation took place on Thursday in Haddington in front of four judges. Ideas included in the proposals from both teams ranged from enhanced recycling facilities within schools to easily obtainable zero-waste recipes which cut out the need for packaging.

Provost John McMillan led the judging panel and said: “We were impressed and excited  by the quality of the proposals, and motivated to consider how we can take action and work together with schools and Viridor on these ideas and suggestions – the teams had clearly done their research, but it was their passion for the issues that really shone through.”

Katie Colquhuon from Viridor said: “This was an excellent way to celebrate more than one million accident-free hours at Viridor’s Dunbar Energy Recovery Facility.

“I was so impressed by the pupils’ creativity surrounding sustainability and to see the environmental opportunities they have identified for the local area.”

Tom Reid, Waste Services Manager for East Lothian Council said:  “It’s easy to see how we can implement some of their ideas into the work of our team. We have excellent rates of recycling in East Lothian, but until we get to a zero waste society and achieve a fully circular economy we need to work together to protect our shared future.

“I particularly liked the idea of the educational pack with online provision and allowing the schools to compare recycling rates across the County.”

Shamin Akhtar, East Lothian Council cabinet spokesperson for Education and Children’s Services, said: “The young people who participated in this competition should be really proud of themselves. I really liked how the teams showed we can integrate environmental issues across the whole curriculum. I’ve certainly learned something today, and it’s clear that better environmental education is vital to ensuring that people take action.”

The teams from both schools will now go on to work together to develop their ideas for implementation and both have received £500 each to spend on Environmental and Educational improvements within their school.

The winning teams will also be invited to the Keep Scotland Beautiful awards ceremony in Haddington in September.

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